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Poll Aila may hit irrigation minister

Is Basanti constituency in South 24-Parganas heading for another Aila? If not the natural Aila, surely the possibilities of an election Aila are high in this sensitive constituency, the aftermath of which may upset the apple cart of RSP sitting MLA and irrigation minister Subhas Naskar. Sukumar Debnath reports.

kolkata Updated: Apr 27, 2011 14:43 IST
Sukumar Debnath

Is Basanti constituency in South 24-Parganas heading for another Aila? If not the natural Aila, surely the possibilities of an election Aila are high in this sensitive constituency, the aftermath of which may upset the apple cart of RSP sitting MLA and irrigation minister Subhas Naskar.

The main reason for Naskar's defeat might be the pathetic living condition of Aila victims, for whom the term "rehabilitation" is synonymous to "promises never kept".

Sumati Sardar, who lost his home to Aila, is still living in a dilapidated shanty along the river embankment, as housing loans from the state government never materialised.

In fact, many of the residents of her village, Harbhangi, have lost their interest in polls after politicians botched up the rehabilitation process. "Nobody cares for us and we will not go to cast our votes. Whoever captures power will abandon us after elections," said Sardar.

Their grievances are against everybody -- the state government, panchayats and political parties. Although the Centre sanctioned more than R100 crore for rehabilitation of Aila victims, it never reached them partially because of the administrative negligence and partly because of partisan politics.

She is not the only one who is angry and Fulkumari Mondal of Garnbose, who lost her home, agrees with Sardar. Ahmed Mollah of Ramchandrakhali is very angry. Although his neighbour, Saraswati Mondal received a housing loan of Rs 10,000, Mollah is still waiting. "I do not know whether I will receive it," he said.

Although the state government started rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the region, it was not sufficient. Now with the polls round the corner, the tardy effort has become a headache for Naskar.

Naskar's opponent and Congress candidate, Arnab Roy, is waiting to take advantage of voter dissatisfaction. However, it is not a done deal and the RSP candidate is campaigning hard. Naskar had sanctioned R75,000 for local clubs, which was disbursed to minorities and Hindu crematoriums. "We are hopeful of retaining the seat, especially because women voters and youth are backing us," Naskar said.

Roy, on the other hand, alleged that Left-supported goons are moving around with arms and threatening voters.